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Navajo Transit transferred to NDOT

Navajo Transit transferred to NDOT

WINDOW ROCK

With his signature, President Jonathan Nez on Nov. 4 approved the transfer of the Navajo Transit System from the Division of General Services to the Navajo Division of Transportation.

The bill, sponsored by Delegate Carl Slater, passed unanimously during the Navajo Nation Council’s fall session.

Leaders say the move will improve the efficiency of the Navajo public transportation system and allow for opportunities for expansion and growth.

“This has been a long time coming because most tribal transportation programs include transit within their org chart and operations,” Slater said. “It’s kind of unique that here on Navajo we’ve had them separated into two different divisions.”

Slater said it’s much better to have all the Nations’ transportations services within one entity.

“General Services has traditionally been about service to the government and NDOT is about service to the people,” he said.

The Navajo Transit System provides safe and reliable public transportation for thousands of Navajo citizens, which improves the quality of life by increasing access to health care, education, employment, recreation, entertainment, and essential shopping and services.

The system currently operates 18 routes throughout the Nation and within Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah to 41 of the 110 Navajo chapters.

Under NDOT, NTS will continue the day-to-day operations and the transition will not affect the current routes.

“Transferring the transit program to the Navajo Division of Transportation will strengthen the program’s effectiveness, service delivery, and funding opportunities,” Nez said. “Public transportation and fixed-route transit services continue to be much more efficient and beneficial in getting Navajo people from one place to another.”

Other benefits of bus transport include reducing air pollution and traffic, increasing fuel efficiency, and ensuring non-drivers, elders and disabled people have a transportation option, said Nez.

“Our public transportation is an economic driver for our nation and a lifeline for Navajo college students going to school,” Delegate Kee Allen Begay said. “Especially during this pandemic, we need reliable public transportation so our families can travel safely for work, school, and for their essential items.”

Slater said his hope is that the management of NTS under NDOT will lead to the integration of modern transit options into project planning and construction.

For example, NDOT can design new highways that include bus pull-outs, commuter parking lots and other amenities for bus travelers.

“The safety of our transit users is number one,” Slater said. “This move envisions a Navajo future of multimodal transportation where hybrid buses are integrated with roadway planning.”

NDOT Executive Director Garrett Silversmith said his staff is confident that they will build on the success of the existing NTS program and further expand the Nation’s public transportation systems.

“The plan is to look to the future of what a dynamic transportation system looks like for a tribal nation,” Silversmith said. “We would like to expand our routes because Navajo highways connect communities.”

Silversmith has appointed Tanya Jim as the new manager for NTS.

Information: www.navajotransit.com


About The Author

Rima Krisst

Reporter and photojournalist Rima Krisst has been with the Navajo Times since July of 2018, and covers our Arts and Culture and Government Affairs beats. Prior to joining the editorial team at the Times, Krisst worked in various capacities in the areas of communications, public relations, marketing and Indian Affairs policy on behalf of the Tribes, Nations and Pueblos of New Mexico. Among her posts, she served as Director of PR and Communications for the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department under Governor Bill Richardson, Healthcare Outreach and Education Manager for the Eight Northern Pueblos, Tribal Tourism Liaison for the City of Santa Fe, and Marketing Projects Coordinator for Santa Fe Indian Market. As a writer and photographer, she has also worked independently as a contractor on many special projects, and her work has been published in magazines. Krisst earned her B.S. in Business Administration/Finance from the University of Connecticut.

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